Na Léigir

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Tá a fhios againn in Éirinn cad is léigear ann.

Tá damhsaí againn atá ainmnithe as léigir fiú- Ionsaí na hInse, mar shampla. Ach ní rud greannmhar é léigear – tá sin le feiceáil go soiléir inár stair. Mhair léigear Dhoire (1689) 105 lá. Fuair 8,000 de dhaonra na cathrach bás. Maraíodh 3,552 i rith Léigear Dhroichead Átha i 1649, 700- 800 saoránach ina measc. Fuair na mílte bás i Léigear Luimní (1690-91). Rinneadh scannán ar na mallaibh faoi Léigear Jadotville, sa Chongó, áit a raibh 153 saighdiúir Éireannach i bhfórsa na Náisiún Aontaithe i 1961. Níor mhair an léigear sin ach sé lá. Níor maraíodh Éireannach ar bith: gortaíodh cúigear. Gheill an complacht agus bhí siad ina bpríosúnaigh cogaidh ar feadh míosa. Ach ní thig leat comparáid a dhéanamh idir na léigir sin agus léigir eile i stair an domhain. Fuair thart fá 2 milliún bás i Léigear Leningrad (1941- 1944). Síltear gur cailleadh 2 milliún fosta i léigear Stalingrad (1942-43).

Agus faoi láthair bíonn tuairiscí faoi Léigear Aleppo ar an teilifís gach lá. Thosaigh an cath i mí Iúil 2012. Tá Aleppo ar na cathracha níos sine ar domhan. Shocraigh daoine ansin 8,000 bliain ó shin. Suíomh Oidhreachta Domhanda atá ann ach tá a lán foirgneamh stairiúil ar shiúl anois. Tá oirthear na cathrach scriosta ar fad. Tá ceantair áirithe cosúil le cairéal, le carnáin cloch in áteanna a raibh tithe. Ionsaíodh ospidéil. Tá ganntanas uisce ann, tá ganntanas bia ann, tá ganntanas leictreachais ann. Bíonn aer-ruathair ann gach lá. Titeann buamaí bairille marfacha. Creidtear go mbaintear úsáid as gás nimhneach. D’éalaigh na céadta míle, ach tá 200-300 míle gafa sa chathair go fóill. I léigear ar bith, bíonn an chosmhuintir thíos leis i gcónaí. Fuair 400,000 duine bás sa tSiria go dtí seo, páistí cuid mhaith acu. Cad é a déarfaidh na glúnta a thiocfaidh inár ndiaidh? Tar éis na mílte bliain de ‘shibhialtacht’, baintear úsáid as cogaíocht níos mó ná dóigh ar bith eile le fadhbanna a ‘réiteach’.

Translation

Sieges

In Ireland we know what sieges are. We even have dances called after sieges- the Siege of Ennis, for example. But a siege is no laughing matter: we can see this clearly from the history of our own country.

The Siege of Derry (1689) lasted 105 days. 8,000 of the city’s population died. 3,552 people were killed during the Siege of Drogheda in 1649: this included 700-800 ordinary citizens. Thousands died during the Siege of Limerick (1690-91).

A film was made recently about the Siege of Jadotville in the Congo where 153 Irish soldiers attached to the United Nations force were stationed in 1961. That siege only lasted six days. No Irish soldiers were killed, but five were wounded. The company surrendered, and they were held prisoners of war for a month.

But these sieges cannot be compared to other sieges in the history of the world. Around 2 million died during the Siege of Leningrad (1941- 1944). It is reckoned that 2 million were also killed during the Siege of Stalingrad (1942-43).

And at the moment there are reports every day on television on the Siege of Aleppo. The battle began in July 2012. Aleppo is one of the oldest cities in the world. People settled there 8,000 years ago. It is a World Heritage Site, but many of the historic buildings have now disappeared. The east of the city is completely destroyed. Some districts look like a quarry, with piles of rubble where there once were houses. Hospitals have been attacked. There is a lack of food and water and there is a shortage of electricity. There are air-raids every day. Deadly barrel bombs are being dropped. It is thought that poison gas is being used. Hundreds of thousands have fled, but between 200,000 and 300,000 are still trapped in the city.

It is always the poor people who suffer in a siege. 400,000 people have died in Syria, many of them children.

What will future generations say about this? After thousands of years of ‘civilisation’, war is used to ‘resolve’ problems, rather than any other method.